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Survey shows first-generation artists less satisfied with education


By IDS Reports



A recent survey suggests first-generation artists — nearly four-fifths of undergraduate-level arts alumni in the United States — are less satisfied with their education than other artists, according to a data release by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project.

The release defined first-generation artists as “alumni who responded no to the question, ‘were/are either of your parents, guardians or close relatives professional artists?’”

The SNAAP survey was administered by the IU Center for Postsecondary Research in collaboration with the Vanderbilt University Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, according to the 
release.

It collected data from 67,978 alumni between 2011 and 2013, with 79 percent of those surveyed being first-generation 
artists.

First-generation artists rated several aspects of their educational experiences as significantly less satisfactory than other artists, according to the 
release.

Those areas included “sense of belonging and attachment,” “opportunities to network with alumni and others” and “advising about career or further education.”

“These findings indicate that institutions may need to provide resources to assist those students with less outside understanding of the arts, in order to enhance their institutional experience,” 
according to the release.

In three of the 10 aspects surveyed — “opportunities to take non-arts classes,” “opportunities to work in different artistic disciplines from your own” and “opportunities to perform, exhibit or present your work” — first-generation artists and other artists rated their experiences similarly.

According to the release, the survey included alumni with degrees in fields across the arts, including art history, art education, creative and other writing, dance, design and media arts.

The highest percentage of first-generation artists belonged to architecture at 82 percent and theater at 82 percent, while the lowest belonged to music 
performance at 77 percent.

According to the release, “this may possibly be due to first-generation artists choosing majors with a clearer and less ‘risky’ career path.”

Black, Hispanic/Latino and Asian graduates are also slightly more likely to be first-generation artists than white alumni by a few percent, according to the release.

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